October 11 – Copenhagen
“That’s not the way things are done here in Copenhagen.”
Frequently Danes compare themselves to Swedes, as we all tend to define ourselves by the differences from our nearest neighbours, and frequently Danes find themselves a little looser than Swedes. I cannot tell you how many times I have heard that Swedes are their stiffer brothers, more strict and more dominated by rules and more conservative in their demeanors and personalities. However, I find this to be least truthful in the “Free State of Chrisitania” which presents itself as a lawless community within Copenhagen’s city limits. It’s the sort of place I want to like – ideals of anarchy, protection of the rights of artists and outsiders – but what it has become instead is a community invested only in the right to smoke weed. And unfortunately they have lost their drugs to seedier dealers over the years. Believe me when I say, I’m all for people’s choice and rights when it comes to drugs of any kind – I’d like things to be made more safely available for all – but I think when this becomes the only ambition of a populace, a lot of other important rights get lost along the way. I will scan briefly the rights we lost in order to play at Loppen: the right to nice lodgings (we were in fact downgraded to a shittier hotel without warning immediately after arriving from our ridiculously early morning flight), the right to a balanced meal, the right to be helped with loading our gear, the right to drink alcohol, the right to even passable sound, the right to amicable hospitality from the venue staff even though we’d all mutually agreed to these simple egalitarian terms. We did our best to make things work, of course, but it wasn’t an easy time. When the manager of Loppen told the kindly and well-meaning promoter that we were not allowed to have our backstage rider, Dan and I were forced to have a little chat with the man. “We don’t allow bands to drink liquor before 10 pm,” he shrugged. In our defense, Dan exclaimed, “I’m a thirty-three year old man and I’ve been on tour for many many months and you agreed to our contract. What’s the problem exactly?” He shrugged again and said, “We’ve had a problem with bands getting too drunk to play.” I stepped up a little and said, “We don’t have that problem.” Again, a shrug, “That’s not the way things are done here in Copenhagen.” I hate meaningless rules so I said, “I’d rather you not act like my mother, I guess. If one wanted to, one could get themselves drunk in a matter of minutes. This 10 pm deadline you have set is a strange and arbitrary thing that doesn’t feel very fair. Plus, I’d like a glass of wine with my “meal.”” And eventually he relented but it took a lot of unnecessary teeth pulling. I love Denmark and we’ve had many excellent shows in the nation but I struggle with the nonsensical regulations of Christiania. None of it felt very good despite the show itself. It felt like there were stipulations and guidelines to everything we wanted to do – decreed by some unknown entity with no built in protocol for dialogue and recourse. It felt a little like everyone had given up. But we didn’t. Despite being under-attended and certainly the worst sound of the tour (due to one long-haired stoned out grey cloud of a man – indifferent and dreary and most likely deaf), we rocked out to Battle Cat very happily. And when we finally played, I thought “This is the way things should be done in Copenhagen” because the crowd was lovely and determined to have a good time. And, in the end, it felt like we were all on equal footing with them sharing big dreams despite the failed conditions of our given locale.